The diet of humans, and particularly projected trends in diet, represent a major threat to the future of the planet. This presentation will outline the nature of this threat, and deal
specifically with the little known implications for global sustainability of phosphorus, a
nutrient essential for agriculture, the availability of which is heavily impacted by dietary trends. Phosphorus is necessary for all plant growth, and therefore the increase in
consumption of animal products as a result of changing diets has had a major impact on the demand for the finite resources of phosphate rock, due to the fact that animal products require several times the amount of phosphorus than if humans were to eat the plants themselves. There are global implications due to the scarcity of low cost, concentrated
phosphate rock, and its geopolitical concentration. The downstream impact on waterways as a result of increased, and inefficient phosphorus usage, is also becoming a major problem in many countries.
The presentation will also describe the synergies between the many overlapping issues that are relevant to food, diet and sustainability, applying a systems perspective, demonstrating linkages between issues that are traditionally considered separately, and applying a
transdisciplinary lens, recognizing that the issues raised overlap the traditional disciplinary boundaries.
The presentation will also focus on trends, likely outcomes and emerging solutions and
policy options relevant to the identified problems.
Professor Stuart White is Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the
University of Technology, Sydney where he leads a team of researchers who create change towards sustainable futures through independent, project-based research. With over thirty years experience in sustainability research, Professor White’s work focuses on achieving sustainability outcomes at least cost for a range of government, industry and community clients in Australia and internationally. In 2012 he was awarded the Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Environmental Research. He is Deputy Chair of the International Water Association Specialist Group on Efficient Urban Water Management, and a Board Member of the Australian Alliance for